July 2016 Bucket List Life Dare: A Day of Freedom

July 2016 Bucket List Life DareWhat would you do with a whole day free: nothing on the calendar and no obligations to fulfill? It’s worth thinking about because the concept of freedom alone can yield interesting bucket list goals. A whole 24 hours to yourself with the freedom from other’s expectations. A wide open day of freedom in the location of your choosing to explore or relax. A day free from screens, phones, social media, interruptions, distractions.

Freedom, expressed in the way that we most need or prefer, can take on a variety of forms. But how often do we seize on it and embrace it in any form? More often than not conversations with people I know will gravitate toward how busy they are and how many obligations they have to fulfill. Freedom, and the release it provides, rarely factors into daily life – at least not here in the U.S. Which if anything, is ironic.

That’s why I chose this Bucket List Life Dare for July. I want us to take advantage of the freedom we should be able to experience in this great country of ours in ways that improve our lives. Too often I see freedom only being exercised to trumpet beliefs (freedom of expression). But freedom is about so much more than that.

So here’s your bucket list life dare for this coming month: put a big “X” through one day on your calendar this month and keep it free from planned activities. Enjoy that day of freedom however you and your family wish.

Our family has already booked a few days of camping in Michigan for later in July. It’s an annual trip for us that does a pretty good job of taking us away from obligations and giving us freedom. But to be more intentional about it, I’m going to encourage my family to make one of our days about everyone getting to choose one expression of freedom – go to the beach or not go to the beach. Get up early or sleep late. Eat healthy food or not. Or whatever it is they come up with.

How about you? What would a day of freedom look like for you? Can you claim a day of freedom on your calendar this month?




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August Bucket List Life Dare: Seize the Summer Moment

It’s August. Our school district is clamoring for my attention again with registration forms in the mail and orientation reminders in my inbox. As much as I want to ignore it and pretend my mornings will forever be blissfully quiet with kids sleeping late, summer is winding down. School will be starting again. Soon. And that feeling that we haven’t done everything we wanted to for the summer niggles at me.

August 2015 BLL Dare_ Seize the Summer Moment (1)You too? I have some good news for both you and me: it’s not over yet. Even as we shop for school supplies, we can still complete something we had planned this summer that we haven’t gotten around to. And even better, we have a natural deadline to spur us on – the first day of school.

So that’s the theme for this month’s bucket list life dare: Seize the Summer Moment. Think back to the first day of summer. What did you envision the three months of June, July and August 2015 to look like? What did you hope you and your kids would be able to do or create or see or learn or visit or encounter?

Hopefully you can say your summer lived up to much of your vision. And maybe you were pleasantly surprised by experiences you hadn’t dreamed of ahead of time. But there are probably one or two things that you couldn’t fit in or just plain forgot about. That’s what this dare is about. Pick one or two things, preferably bucket list goals – things that you have never experienced before, that you still want to get in before summer ends. Then make them happen in August (or by Labor Day, if you want to give yourself until the official end of summer).

My goal is to take my kids to Magic Waters, a water park we have never tried. We pass it every summer on our way to my in-laws’ summer home, but since we go out there to boat and fish and swim, it never made sense to hit the water park. This year we were fortunate enough to be given passes to Magic Waters. But first summer school and its rigorous homework prevented us. Then vacation away, appointments, work and other obligations made it hard to get out there. Now we have no reason not to go – we just need to make it happen. And I can’t wait for the fun we’ll have when we do!

How about you? What is one new adventure you want to still squeeze into your summer? Take the August Bucket List Life Dare and make it happen.

New Monthly Blog Feature: The Bucket List Life Dare

JuneDareImageIt’s one thing to dream about and discuss our bucket lists. But we hit a whole new level of life experience when we take action, any action. Which is why I am introducing a new monthly feature here on my blog: the Bucket List Life Dare.

This week my family celebrates two transitions: my middle daughter Katherine graduated from 8th grade and is now a high schooler, while my youngest daughter Evelyn officially finished elementary school. If there is one phrase I have heard more than any other in the past two days it’s “time sure does fly.” And indeed it felt that way Monday during the junior high Moving On ceremony as I sat near the mom of one of Katherine’s preschool classmates and we reminisced about our girls as four-year-olds.

It made me realize that life will never slow down for us to do the things we want to do. If nothing else, the pace of life where I live in American suburbia is accelerating. I have learned I can’t wait for the moment to be just right to live out my bucket list dreams. And I have learned I don’t have to know the whole path toward realizing them. I simply need to find, and take, the first step.

The Bucket List Life Dare is about first steps. Or next steps, depending on where you are in your chosen bucket list journey. At the beginning of each month I will issue an invitation to a simple challenge. To join in, follow the instructions for that month’s challenge and chime in below in the comments about what you did.

It is my hope when next June arrives we aren’t blown away so much by the passage of time, but by how much happened in the span of a single year. Are you in?

Here is the first Bucket List Life Dare: Be a tourist in your own region. Tell us one thing your city, state or region is known for that you have never experienced. It could be a food you’ve never tried, a place you’ve never visited, a festival you’ve never attended or some other regional specialty or attraction. Then, if possible, plan a time to do/see/eat it this month.

To complete the dare, tell us in the comments your local live-like-a-tourist goal (and when you plan to check it off). Or Tweet out your response using the hashtag #BucketListLifeDare. Once you fulfill the month’s dare, come back and tell us what it was like. If you blog about your experience, I’d love to have you share a link in the comments.

My #BucketListLifeDare for this month: take my family to Eataly, the Italian Food Marketplace in Chicago. It is on my bucket list already and this month I want to check it off. Stay tuned to hear how that turns out for us.

The Bucket List Life Manifesto

You are an adventurer. You know that, right? If you are a parent, then you signed up for a life of thrills and chills, unexpected turns of events, situations that test your wit and courage, and unparalleled moments of joy. Don’t miss the adventure of life with kids.

Bucket List Life Manifesto PosterBecause every day is an opportunity to move closer to your dreams.

But if the only adventures you are experiencing with your kids right now are the ones that involve charting the fastest course between the swim meet on one side of town to the baseball game on the other, or negotiating a trip to the grocery store without someone melting down, be encouraged. There can be more to the adventure of being a parent.

And if your family’s adventures are relegated to the three months of summer, or the two weeks you spend away on vacation, take heart. The adventure can be lived all year round.

It just takes some courage. And commitment. The courage to admit that you want more for the 18 years you have with each of your kids. The courage to admit you’re not always sure what you’re doing or where you’re going. And the commitment to make a change.

I wrote the Bucket List Life Manifesto you see here in honor of the families I know who live out adventures in their lives. And I wrote it to celebrate my e-book Family Bucket Lists: Bring More Fun, Adventure & Camaraderie Into Every Day, which launches today on Amazon and Barnes & Noble today in Kindle and Nook formats. Because it is not easy to live out the best adventure with our kids. It’s so much easier to get caught up in the frenzy of modern life. But I want more for families. I want the life exemplified in this manifesto.

Family Bucket Lists helps parents and kids brainstorm what that life will look like for them. It provides a guide – through questions that make you and your kids think about what makes you tick, what fuels your passions, and what you’ve wanted to do but forgot about. And it offers tips for integrating a life of adventure into the everyday world of ordinary family life so that you can be moving toward your dreams one step at a time each and every day.

I hope you’ll adopt the Bucket List Life Manifesto for yourself and your family. And I hope you’ll take the first step today toward living it out by buying a copy of Family Bucket Lists – in pdf, Kindle, or Nook (and coming in print August 2013). If you do – send me a copy of your receipt and I’ll get you the free family questions printable.

If you’re adopting the Bucket List Life Manifesto, tell me in the comments below. Or if your family has been living out an adventure, share it. I love to hear from parents who are embracing their role as adventurer.

Reclaiming Time for What You Want To Do Most

Years and years ago I read an excellent little book (more like a booklet) called The Tyranny of the Urgent. This was in the days before cell phones, email and text messaging. I remember being struck then by its simple message about how we should stop diverting our attention from the important to take care of the urgent, but now I think it’s one that could possibly be a lifesaver.

If you struggle with always feeling behind…
If you feel like there’s more to get done than time in the day…
If you multi-task all day and still can’t keep up…

I have a solution for you. And it relates to thchainede message of that book. It’s simply this:
Stop giving your attention to the seemingly urgent and start respecting what’s important to you.

Here’s what I see happening in our culture where we allow people constant access to us through cell phones, email and text messaging: we stop respecting our priorities.

When your phone rings do you jump up to answer it as long as it’s physically possible?

When the incoming text-message signal sounds, do you immediately check to read it?

When your inbox alerts you to a new email, do you open it?

If you’re like the average person who receives 10 to 40 text messages and 12 phone calls every day, that means you’re allowing others to interrupt you 22 to 52 times every single day (not to mention interruptions from the dozens of emails you’re likely to pause for). And probably only two or three of those each week are truly urgent.

The thing is, it’s not like we all plan to be interrupted all the time. I’m sure almost every mom would prefer to go through her day checking things off her “to do” list one by one. But without a plan in place to protect our time, we fail.

Why not create your own “policy” related to your availability to others? Establish times and occasions for when you’ll respond to others reaching out to you. For example: if you’d like to have uninterrupted family time during dinner three nights (or more) a week, set a policy of not answering any phones during that time. Institute a “no phones at the table” rule for those nights and have everyone deposit their phone in a container during that time.

Set another policy for email – then communicate it to others to get yourself off the hook for feeling beholden to answering every one immediately. Tell those who contact you regularly something like, “Please understand I will be checking emails between x time and y time each day. I may not be able to get back to you that day, but will do my best to respond within x amount of time.” You decide the time frames. You control the access.

Create a similar policy for text messages, saying something like, “During the hours of x and y, I won’t always be available to respond to text messages. I will do my best to get back to you within a few hours. If you have an urgent need, please leave a message on my house phone (or whatever mode you choose as your emergency contact).”

Then follow your policies – not to be a dictator over anyone, but to provide freedom for yourself. Most importantly: use that freedom to attend to those things that are important to you.

By setting and following a few simple policies, you can overcome the “tyranny of the urgent” and begin having the time to accomplish those things you value most.

Photo credit: “Chained” by Colin-47 (Creative Commons)